There's Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and then there's the rest.

As we approach the end of the first half of 2007, I have decided to take a look at our choices for Best Retail Stock for 2007 to see how each is faring. So far, the man who calls the shots for the retail sector at the Fool has put on a clinic, as David Meier's pick of Chipotle has taken a commanding lead with a return of 36.3% since his article ran. Guitar Center (NASDAQ:GTRC), selected by Matthew Crews, has a very respectable return of 10.9%, but is running a distant second.

Chipotle recently reported a lights-out Q1 in which its comparable restaurant sales rose by 8.3% and EPS surged 46.2% when compared to the prior year Q1. Last month, Guitar Center upped its full-year forecast as its Q1 store and online sales finished higher than originally anticipated.

As was the case with evaluating the progress of the Best Drug Stock for 2007, the returns of these stocks have not been adjusted for dividends, but should still give Fools a good idea of who's winning and who's losing. 

And so far Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) at (23.6%) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI) at (16.4%) are definitely losing. Despite its plummeting stock price, Starbucks reported a strong Q2 last month with an 18.5% increase in profits on a 20% rise in revenues on a year-over-year basis. Whole Foods' first quarter, reported last month, was not quite as upbeat. Despite a 12% increase in sales, net income dropped by 11.2% versus the year-ago quarter as the costs of new store openings have eaten away at the company's profits.

Aside from Chipotle and Guitar Center, Target (NYSE:TGT) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) are the only other stocks in positive territory with respective returns of 3.5% and 1.5%. The other five entrants are all in the red. This trend is not overly surprising, given the generally challenging retail environment we have seen in recent months in the U.S., along with higher gas prices, which are clearly having a negative impact on the wallets of consumers.

Here are the full results at the all-star break:


% Return



Guitar Center






Whole Foods




Data from Capital IQ
Returns from January 17, 2007, to June 12, 2007

While Chipotle will be difficult to run down at this point, there is still plenty of time left in the  calendar year. What are your thoughts on the prospects for these stocks? The Fool would like to hear your opinions on the picks for The Best Retail Stock in 2007. So check out our Motley Fool CAPS community intelligence database, which already has more than 29,000 members, and cast your rating for each of these stocks. At the end of the year, we will have to revisit once again to see who is our MVP and who will be traded for a player to be named later.

Chipotle is both a Motley Fool Hidden Gems and a Rule Breakers recommendation. Starbucks and Whole Foods are both Stock Advisor selections. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value pick. All four newsletters are beating the market and all are available for a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Billy Fisher does own Class B shares of Chipotle. The Fool has a disclosure policy.